Theft prevention

Clint Barmes can't handle the throw as Mike Aviles steals second base. (Getty Images photo)
Clint Barmes can't handle the throw as Mike Aviles steals second base. (Getty Images photo)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The Pirates have 18 stolen bases this spring, which is tied for seventh among the 16 NL clubs. Their opponents have swiped 25 bags. Obviously, the Pirates need to do a better job controlling the running game.

“We’re working on it every day,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Sometimes, there are some guys who need to be a little more efficient. We’ve got some guys who have to improve their release times. And we can still improve on our accuracy, throwing to second base. More often than not, it’s been good (runners’) counts and they pick their spots well — we have work to do there.”

»»» The Astros have a split-squad today, and ex-Bucco Zach Duke is starting for Houston in Orlando against the Braves. The lefty has a decent shot to crack the Astros’ rotation; failing that, he’d probably make the team as a long reliever.

»»» The Pirates will face the Orioles tomorrow on fireworks night at McKechnie Field. Erik Bedard will start for the Pirates against O’s righty Tommy Hunter. Juan Cruz, Tony Watson and Jason Grilli also are slated to pitch. Kevin Correia and Joel Hanrahan will pitch in a camp game at Pirate City.

Spring game No. 21: Pirates v. Astros, 1:05 p.m., Kissimmee, Fla.

Pirates (7-13): 1. Alex Presley lf, 2. Josh Harrison 3b, 3. Clint Barmes ss, 4. Casey McGehee 1b, 5. Rod Barajas c, 6. Yamaico Navarro 2b, 7. Nate McLouth cf, 8. Jake Fox dh, Erik Fryer rf. Brad Lincoln rhp

Also scheduled to pitch: Daniel Moskos, Evan Meek, Jared Hughes and Chris Leroux

Astros (11-9): 1. JB Shuck cf, 2. Jed Lowrie ss, 3. JD Martinez lf, 4. Carlos Lee 1b, 5. Brian Bogusevic rf, 6. Chris Snyder c, 7. Brett Wallace 3b, 8. Jose Altuve 2b, 9. J.A. Happ lhp